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RMAFC to assist states access natural resources funds

 

The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has promised to facilitate states’ access to funds from the natural resources fund if they diversify their revenue sources.

The fund, which is for the development of natural resources like agriculture, tourism, solid minerals and the manufacturing sectors, is domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Speaking when he received a delegation from Katsina State Government on official working visit in his office in Abuja, yesterday, Chairman of RMAFC, Elias Mbam, said the diversification of revenue will enhance revenue generation, create jobs and improve the livelihood of the population.

Mbam observed that for state governments to effectively harness their resources, they need to leverage on areas of comparative advantage for optimum productivity rather than dissipate energy and resources on non-viable sectors.

According to Mbam, the fund being held in trust by the Federal Government can be accessed by states and local governments to invest in the identified areas of diversification with a view to enhancing their revenue base to reduce the over-dependence on oil revenue.

He commended the Katsina State Government for the laudable achievements in the development of infrastructure, capacity building, empowerment and peace building, which are strong drivers of any meaningful development.

Earlier, the Katsina State Commissioner for Finance, Lawal Jari, who presented the State Diversification Blueprint to the RMAFC Chairman on behalf of Governor Ibrahim Shema told members of the commission that the state’s major resources are derived from agriculture, as he rated the state as the highest producer of cotton in Nigeria.

He remarked that the state with a population of about 5.8 million, according to 2006 population census, is endowed with abundant human and natural resources just as it is also rich in culture and tradition, adding that the major challenge confronting the state now was how to expand what it has on ground so that the state would have total diversification of its economy.

Jari disclosed that the state with a total of about 2.43m hectares of arable land, 0.62 m hectares or 26 per cent of irrigable land with several large, medium and small dams across the state is vigorously pursuing a number of agricultural and agro-allied policies, which need to be further strengthened through increased investment by the government to attract private sector participation either in direct agricultural production or in the establishment or development of agro-based industries for export products.

The commissioner stressed that the total project cost, which stood at about N106.52 billion is to be earmarked for the construction of artificial insemination centre and establishment of dairy cattle improvement and products processing units; establishment of intensive fish culture and processing centre; establishment of hi-tech seeds and seedlings multiplication and marketing centres; desertification and erosion control measures; development of grazing reserve and stock route and the rehabilitation of communities affected by flood disasters, among others.

“Promoting diversification, intensification and innovations targeting high value crops for local and export markets to achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural production through all year round cultivation of crops and ensure profitability, targeted investment on irrigation facilities will have to be made on a massive scale,” the commissioner said.

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